This is what comes from my not paying close enough attention to gossip mags and film-obsessed Web sites. I seem to have completely missed the controversy surrounding promotional posters for the horror flick Hostel: Part II (released last month), director-writer Eli Roth’s gorier-than-thou sequel 2005’s Hostel.
Apparently, versions of the Part II poster were on display during the New York ComicCon in February, including one (at left) that showed a nude and headless Bijou Phillips, the 27-year-old model-actress who in this film plays one of three female college students enticed into staying at a Slovakian hostel where torture, rape, and murder are on the menu. (Did I mention that this is a horror movie?) But that placard was ultimately deemed too ... um, risqué for American audiences. So was a modification of the image (shown below), which superimposed Phillips’ fine form onto a slab of raw meat, with the sexier bits judiciously obscured. (Who the hell comes up with these ideas?) A simplified poster, showing only the meat, was eventually sent out, but some movie houses banned it for being too “ruthless.” Eventually, a vaguely menacing but altogether unimaginative substitute made the cut.
All of this prudish brouhaha might have been worthwhile, had it improved Part II’s box-office takings. But according to Wikipedia, while some critics hailed the film as wonderfully subversive, many denounced it as misogynistic and too violent, and during its opening weekend the film took in less than half of the money its predecessor had made. Maybe they should’ve gone with the naked woman, after all.